How the sugar industry blamed it on fat

The revelations matter as the debate over the relative harms of sugar and saturated fat continues today, Dr Glantz said. For many decades, health officials have encouraged Americans to reduce their fat intake, leading many to consume low-fat, high-sugar foods that some experts now accuse of fueling the crisis. of obesity.

“It was a very smart thing that the sugar industry did, because review papers, especially if published in a high profile journal, tend to shape the overall scientific discussion,” he said. declared.

Dr Hegsted used his research to influence government dietary recommendations, which emphasized saturated fat as a driver of heart disease while largely characterizing sugar as empty calories linked to tooth decay. Today, saturated fat warnings remain a cornerstone of government dietary guidelines, although in recent years the American Heart Association, the World Health Organization and other health authorities have also begun to warn. that too much added sugar can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Marion Nestlé, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, wrote an editorial accompanying the new paper in which she said the documents provided “compelling evidence” that the sugar industry had initiated research “expressly to exonerate sugar as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.

“I think it’s appalling,” she said. “You never see such glaring examples.”

Dr Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said university rules on conflict of interest had changed dramatically since the 1960s, but industry articles recalled ” why research should be supported by public funds rather than depending on industry funding.

Dr Willett said researchers had limited data to assess the relative risks of sugar and fat. “In view of the data available to us today, we have shown that refined carbohydrates and in particular sugary drinks are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but that the type of dietary fat is also very important,” he said. -he declares.

The JAMA article on internal medicine drew on thousands of pages of correspondence and other material that UCSF postdoctoral researcher Cristin E. Kearns discovered in the Harvard Archives, University of Illinois and other libraries.

Rachel J. Bradford